Ministry of Sound London's Technical Manager Alex Barrand moved a step nearer his sonic nirvana with the commissioning of a Soundcraft Si2 digital sound desk for the famous main dance room, The Box. At the PLASA Show last September he was introduced to the Soundcraft Si1 by Harman UK/ROI distributor Sound Technology's Dave Bradshaw (also former head of technology at the Ministry).
“There are so many digital desks on the market — but I realised that this was the easiest analogue-to-digital conversion desk money can buy,” commented Alex.
As it transpired, Ministry opted for the larger Si2 model. Whereas the standard Si1 has 32 mic inputs mapped on 16 faders, with four dedicated stereo line channels and four dedicated FX Returns from the Lexicon FX processors, the Si2 has 48 mic inputs mapped on 24 faders.
“My other house technicians are delighted with the upgrade,” confirms Alex, who has long been familiar with the Soundcraft topography and excellent signature sound. “ I have used a Vi before and as well as one of the old SM24's, and have always felt comfortable. But I had never been on this.”
The console was pressed into service straight out of the box. “After patching the desk on the virtual version then uploading the show data it was extremely easy,” he said. “The sound was the best we have ever had, from the moment we turned it on.”
The Si2 is used as master mixer for the main room setups, taking feeds from all the booth DJ mixers — as well as bands. Alex Barrand says the extra fader group provided by the Si2 was a real bonus, adding that he no longer has any need for an outboard rack … although it is simple to make third party inserts, such as a valve compressor.
“With four Lexicon processors and each channel with its own gate, comps and EQ using dbx and BSS heritage components I have everything I need inline. It's got a lot more weight behind it. Plus every input and output has its own dedicated input (output) socket on the back of the console.”
The Si2 also allows him to download a virtual console on his laptop and save show mixes to a USB from home.
Finally, the 24 Group/Aux busses, available at all times, have made Alex Barrand's life (and those of his technicians) a breeze. “On our old analogue desks it was a nightmare to do switchovers — you had to put together your outboard racks every night. But using the bus sends on the Si2 anything can be done very quickly.
“Even the strictly analogue guys are over the moon.”